For the last 25 years, The Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts, Ashkal Alwan, a non‐profit organisation located in Beirut has operated mostly in a nomadic format in its quest to foster critical thinking around contemporary art and engage in community mobilisation within Lebanon and beyond. Ashkal Alwan began as informal network of artists, writers, educators, activists, and cultural practitioners in the city of Beirut with the ethos to ‘reclaim their city through intellectual endeavours and artistic interventions in public spaces.’ The organisation was founded in 1993 and was part of a new wave of spaces including Masrah Beirut (Beirut Theater), and the Arab Image Foundation seeking to rethink the city’s cultural landscape in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War and ‘define the meaning of civics and civic discourse.’
Ashkal Alwan now operates out of a refurbished factory floor continuing its strands including Home Works Forum, a multidisciplinary forum on cultural practices taking place every three years; Home Workspace Program, a tuition-free annual study program open to emerging artists and other cultural practitioners; Video Works, an annual grant program providing a sustainable support structure for video production by early and mid-career artists and filmmakers based in Lebanon; and Art at the Pink Factory, a drawing and painting school launched in September 2018.
Going forward, Christine Tohme, Founding Director believes that “Ashkal Alwan’s focus on online platforms could be read as a direct response to conditions of displacement and fragmentation, which are among the most significant challenges we will be facing as local artistic-cultural institutions in the coming years. It’s important to rethink community practices and provide new frameworks and infrastructures to ensure the continuation of our work.” She adds that “a way to think through this is to consider engaging in the production of digital platforms, as opposed to only physical spaces.” Ashkal Alwan has also recently established Art at the Pink Factory, “a drawing and painting school promoting early artistic expression among youths through art education, through which classes will be offered throughout the year to students of all ages and are designed in the form of interactive workshops.” Unfortunately, we are not able to provide you with further commentary at the moment, since your deadline is today We hope this will be sufficient for the time being.
The organisation recently launched aashra, an open-access video streaming platform offering rare, out of circulation and never-been-seen audio-visual works for online viewing. Currently, 10 films and videos on rotation are available from Ashkal Alwan’s audio visual archive by Maher Abi Samra, Mounira Al Solh, Marwa Arsanios, Ali Cherri, Roy Dib, Nesrine Khodr, Lina Majdalanie, Raed & Rania Rafei, Roy Samaha, and Akram Zataari.
A special benefit auction to mark this milestone in the form of an exhibition will take place between 14 – 19 December 2018, with donated artworks by 39 artists ranging from recent to past collaborators and study program alumni.